Conservatives easily hung onto a long-time federal seat Monday in eastern Ontario. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Conservatives easily hung onto a long-time federal seat Monday in eastern Ontario. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Conservatives hang on to safe eastern Ontario seat in easy byelection win

OTTAWA — The Conservatives easily hung onto a long-time Tory fiefdom Monday, scoring a convincing victory in a federal byelection held in eastern Ontario.

With all polls reporting in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, Conservative candidate Michael Barrett, a municipal councillor, had racked up 57.8 per cent of the vote.

Liberal contender Mary Jean McFall was second with 35.8 per cent, while the NDP trailed with with three per cent — just 24 votes ahead of the Greens.

The riding became vacant when Conservative MP Gord Brown died in May. He had been the MP since 2004.

Some 35 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the byelection.

The Conservatives have held the riding for all but 16 of the last 40 years. The Liberals held the riding from 1988 to 2004, thanks in large part to conservative vote splitting between Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance.

But since the reuniting of conservative forces in 2004, the Conservatives have been pretty much invincible in the riding.

Brown took more than 50 per cent of the votes in four elections, peaking at almost 61 per cent in 2011.

His fifth and last election, in 2015, was his closest, with Liberal McFall nipping at his heels. Brown captured 47.4 per cent of the vote to McFall’s 40.6 per cent.

On Monday, Barrett managed to increase the Conservatives’ share of the vote by 10 percentage points while McFall’s share dropped by five points.

For the NDP, Monday’s results were particularly grim. The party’s share of the vote plunged to less than half the 8.3 per cent it garnered in 2015, which was already a disappointing drop from 2011 when the NDP managed to finish second, ahead of the Liberals.

New Democrats are hoping the party’s slumping fortunes will turn around once Leader Jagmeet Singh wins a seat in the House of Commons. He’ll get his chance in early February, when byelections are expected to be held in three more vacant ridings — the British Columbia riding of Burnaby South, where Singh intends to run, the Montreal riding of Outremont and the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is poised to call those three byelection early next month and may yet add a fourth, B.C.’s Nanaimo-Ladysmith, where NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson is making a leap to provincial politics. She has announced her intention to resign once a by-election is officially called in the provincial riding of Nanaimo, expected by early January.

However, should Malcolmson not quit her federal seat until late January, Nanaimo-Ladysmith could wind up without an MP until the general election set for Oct. 21.

Under Bill C-76, which the government hopes will be passed by the end of this year, the prime minister would be prohibited from calling a byelection within nine months of the day fixed for a general election, making Jan. 20 the last day byelections could be called.

For that reason, the Montreal riding of Saint-Leonard—Saint-Michel is likely to be without representation until next October. Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio has said he intends to hand in his resignation on Jan. 22.

The Ontario riding of Brampton East could also be left without representation, depending on what Raj Grewal decides to do. The MP, who was bounced from the Liberal caucus last week amid revelations that he was under police investigation after racking up enormous gambling debts, had announced late last month that he was resigning his seat.

He has since changed his mind and now says he’ll take a leave of absence over the holiday season and decide in the new year whether to continue as an MP.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced more than 1,500 active cases in Alberta Monday afternoon and five additional deaths. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New COVID rules coming

Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

(Black Press file photo.)
Rocky police charge three suspects after pellet gun shootings

Three incidents results in several injuries

Red Deer city council gave final approval to a mask bylaw that will go into effect on Nov. 30. (Black Press file photo).
Red Deer city council approves mask bylaw that takes effect on Nov. 30

It could be ‘superceded’ by a provincial mask bylaw, if one is announced Tuesday

Lynn Van Laar, chair of this year’s Christmas Wish Breakfast, said the event was planned outdoors to minimize the risk of COVID. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff
Outdoor Christmas Wish Breakfast helps central Alberta families this holiday season

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going to stop children from having a merry… Continue reading

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) knocks a pass away from Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

Goff throws for 376 yards, 3 TDs in Rams’ 27-24 win vs Bucs

New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood, left, fights for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, N.J., on November 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Experienced Toronto FC ready to take on upstart Nashville SC in playoff action

Canada's head coach Dave Lowry during practice at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, on Wednesday, December 30, 2015. The Winnipeg Jets have hired Lowry as an assistant coach. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Former WHL head coach Dave Lowry joins Paul Maurice’s staff in Winnipeg

Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, returns a shot to Dominic Thiem, of Austria, during the fourth round of the US Open tennis championships in New York on September 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Seth Wenig
A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

A steady if unspectacular season comes to a close for Canada’s Auger-Aliassime

Sacramento Kings' Alex Len (25) collects a rebound against Brooklyn Nets' Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 7, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ashley Landis
Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Raptors continue to shore up frontcourt, signing Alex Len to one-year deal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Freeland says Liberals will deliver economic, fiscal update on Nov. 30

Canadian Joint Operations Commander Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau speaks during a news conference on the recent Canadian Forces helicopter crash, Tuesday, May 19, 2020 in Ottawa. The Canadian Armed Forces is preparing to formally apologize to victims of sexual misconduct. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canadian Armed Forces to formally apologize to victims for sexual misconduct

Canadian Armed Forces to formally apologize to victims for sexual misconduct

Alberta Liberal Party David Khan at a campaign stop in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 11, 2019. The Alberta Liberal Party says its leader, David Khan, is stepping down. A news release from the party on Sunday evening says Khan is accepting a new job in law. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Liberal Party says leader, David Khan, stepping down to accept new job in law

Alberta Liberal Party says leader, David Khan, stepping down to accept new job in law

Most Read